I awoke today after the best night of sleep I’ve had in quite some time. What a difference from last Saturday’s funk.  Had a good workout, took the dog for a walk, then did something that I haven’t done in 10 years; I waxed my car!

I know I could have had the boys at the car wash do it like before, but they don’t do the greatest job in the world. They don’t have a vested interest in my car like I do. I know that waxing a car is not the most exciting thing for most, but it was very satisfying for me. It was but a few short years ago that I thought I’d never have the energy to do the job because I felt so crappy. But I’m here today with great energy, even after all I’ve done this morning. Why? I had a serious talk with myself; I made some serious changes in what I eat, and increased the frequency, intensity, and shortened the duration my exercise program. I have a vested interest in my health; no one else can do it for me. Think about your own situation; do you want to sub it out to someone else or take control of it yourself?

There is an intriguing article written by Gretchen Reynolds, in The New York Times Magazine, published 5/23/10. Researchers are looking at whether the decision to exercise or not is partly due to our genes. The hypothesis is that genes affect how people respond to fatigue or the enjoyment of exercise. These are studies involving fraternal and identical twins, the favorite subjects for geneticists; they provide a neat statistical model for determining whether a behavior is influenced by genetics or exclusively by environment.

A report last year published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and exercise looked at the actual genomes of exercisers and the exercise-averse. They found that people who were active tended to have similar variations of similar genes. The genes in question didn’t affect physical characteristics like strength or speed. They were much more subtle; one gene is thought to influence how people respond to fatigue, suggesting that, for some people, the same amount of exercise may be more tiring and less appealing, than for others, even if they are equally fit. Another gene has an impact on how physically easy and mentally rewarding exercise feels, and yet another gene has been linked to how well the body regulates energy, which can have an effect on the desire to exercise.

It’s interesting research. Associate professor Tuomo Rankinen, at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La, and expert on exercise genetics, says that “everyone knows that for health reasons they should exercise, but don’t. Through genetics, maybe we can find ways to make exercise easier or more attractive for people”. He also goes on to say that his work will never provide you with an excuse not to exercise. Mr. Raninken says that the final choice to exercise is yours, “don’t go blaming your DNA”.

Stay well, John R Blilie, M.S.